One Man Band/The Way Of The World/You Are Yourself/Thinking/You And Me/It's A Hard Life/Giving It All Away/The Story So Far/When The Music Stops/Reasons/One Man Band (Reprise)
As a teenage Who fan in 1973, I eagerly bought this album from lead singer Roger Daltrey, expecting some Who-style rocking. What I got was an almost folky, country-ish album of acoustically-driven ballads written by the then unknown songwriting partnership of Dave Courtney and Leo Sayer (who would have their first album out later that year Silverbird, using some of this material). Courtney plays piano throughout the album. I played it over and over trying to get into it, pretending I liked it. Endless plays meant that it is seriously embedded in my consciousness and makes me very nostalgic for those innocent days. Actually, now, of course, I really like the album.
The acoustic, folky One Man Band, later a hit for Sayer, introduces the album. A good song it is too. The Way Of The World is a strong mid-pace rock ballad, with a bit of electric guitar, while the highly orchestrated You Are Yourself has Daltrey at his cod-operatic, dramatic vocal best. The sweeping strings and bass backing are beautiful and the remastered sound quality is excellent. Thinking was always one of my favourites, with its melodic acoustic build up to a strong, solid rock chorus, with some spectacular drumming from Bob Henrit and a killer guitar solo similar in style to that which memorably ended The Carpenters’ Goodbye To Love.
The plaintive You And Me has Daltrey singing almost falsetto, slightly unconvincingly, but it is a lovely song. Well, for a minute it is, then it suddenly meanders off into a big orchestral ending, with no more vocals. That ended the old “Side One”. “Side Two’ began with the sombre, self-pitying It’s A Hard Life. The whole album seemed to have a theme of being down and out and penniless. Maybe Sayer had been when he wrote these songs, but Daltrey certainly wasn’t. It is a powerful song and is well delivered by Daltrey. It has a huge orchestra backing, as if it should be part of a stage musical. Then comes the beautiful, effortlessly gorgeous Giving It All Away. Sayer would sing this on his 1974 Just A Boy album (the title taken from the chorus of this song). His version is good, but Daltrey’s is the definitive one and was a hit single.
The Story So Far is a chunky, clunky effort at a reggae beat similar to that used by Led Zeppelin on D'Yer Mak'er from the same year. It is a bit clumsy but generally it is an appealing track. When The Music Stops is a mournful lament with Daltrey backed by a single violin. It exemplifies much of the tone of the album. Reasons is another punchy rock and acoustic ballad, before there is a reprise of One Man Band. The bonus track ‘b’ side, There Is Love has Daltrey in full gospel mode, backed by some powerful singers and, apparently Jimmy Page on guitar. A pity it wasn’t included on the album. There would have been room.